2011

MEMS Mirror Will Aid Space-Based Imaging

Microelectromechanical system (MEMS)-based deformable mirror
Boston Micromachines Corp. (BMC)
Cambridge, MA
617-868-4178
www.bostonmicromachines.com

Boston Micromachines was awarded a Phase 1 NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to support space-based imaging research. The company is developing a reliable, fault-tolerant, microelectromechanical system (MEMS)-based deformable mirror.

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BMC has been working in MEMS drives for mirrors for NASA for some time. In January 2010, the company was awarded two Phase 1 SBIR grants to make the drives as small as possible and run on as little power as possible, as well as develop a process for making the high-actuator-count deformable mirrors that would use such tiny drives.

Space-based telescopes have become indispensible in advancing the frontiers of astrophysics. Over the past decade, NASA has pioneered corona-graphic instrument concepts and test-beds to provide a foundation for exploring feasibility of coronagraphic approaches to high-contrast imaging and spectroscopy. From this work, NASA has identified a current technology need for compact, ultra-precise, multi-thousand-actuator deformable mirror (DM) devices.

The MEMS-DM technology will fill a critical gap in NASA’s roadmap for future coronagraphic observatories. To achieve this, BMC will implement two
complementary modifications to the manufacturing process. The team will develop a drive electronics approach that inherently limits actuator electrical current density generated to prevent permanent failure when a short-time-frame-single-fault failure occurs, as well as modify the actuator design to mitigate failure due to adhesion between contacting surfaces of the actuator flexure and fixed base.

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